Legacy company will ask interested contractors to pre-qualify ‘before Easter’

The Olympic Park Legacy Company will fire the starting gun for procurement of the £95m job to rebuild the Olympic stadium after the Games within weeks, despite the fact no long-term tenant has been selected for the venue.

Colin Naish, executive director of infrastructure at the OPLC, said contractors wishing to bid for the stadium job will be asked to complete pre-qualification questionnaires “before Easter”.

The move comes despite the fact the OPLC is only part-way through the process to secure the final tenant for the stadium, with 16 bidders to run the £438m Olympic stadium registering their interest by this week’s deadline.

The move also means stadium builder Sir Robert McAlpine will have to compete against an open field for the job.

The OPLC has £35m of its £292 legacy transformation budget set aside to re-build the stadium, and the London Borough of Newham has committed £40m of funding.

In total the reconstruction job is expected to cost £95m, a figure the OPLC will not confirm but has not disputed, with the remainder likely to be made up by the tenant.

The OPLC has engaged the stadium’s original designers, Populous and Buro Happold, to work up plans for the redevelopment. However, the redevelopment will only be finalised once a long-term tenant is chosen.

Naish said that the current plans will keep the stadium’s existing external appearance.

He said: “The aesthetic of the stadium will be largely unchanged, it’s about turning it into a legacy, so it has a long-term use, so it has a multi-purpose use. So it can host any ball sport - football, rugby, maybe even cricket - but also [host] a concert… so it’s turning it into a true multi-purpose, multi-use venue.”

The stadium is one of a small number of venues on the Olympic Park where the job to re-fit it post-games is still to be procured. For most of the venues, such as the Aquatic Centre, built by Balfour Beatty, the original scope of the contract procured by the Olympic Delivery Authority also covered the post-Games redevelopment.

However, the stadium job is still to be procured because of the change of heart over the legacy use of the stadium since the appointment of Margaret Ford to chair the OPLC.

Naish said: “Our proposal is to keep the stadium at a higher capacity. Because it’s such a fundamental change, we really have to re-tender that.”

Ford re-ignited the possibility of keeping the stadium at a high capacity, rather than the 25,000 seats post-Games originally intended by the ODA, enabling it to host a premiership football club.

Despite the collapse of the process to sell the stadium to West Ham last year, the club is still thought most likely to be the venue’s long-term tenant.

However, the collapse of the original process has meant delivering the refit before the Autumn 2014 deadline to re-open the stadium is much more challenging.

Naish said: “It generally makes life interesting. We’ve appointed Populous, they’re working through the design process now.

“We can’t do work on the stadium until after Games - until Games organiser Locog have bumped out anyway, in January 2013 - and that time line is fixed by others.

“We’ve got until now and then to do our design, procure a contractor, and for the concessionaire process to complete. And obviously we’ve got to submit a planning application as well from the change. The timescale is challenging, but achievable.”